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    21 days of prayer and fasting - Romans 5 

    We all have a deep desire to be loved.  When we are loved we know we are wanted and have significance.  So many of the problems in society have their root in people looking for significance and acceptance in all sorts of destructive ways, feeling unloved and insecure.

    In contrast we can know God loves us and accepts us when we trust Him.  This chapter highlights the key reason we know God loves us.

    The first five verses seem like a song of worship as Paul recalls the effects of the gospel.  We are justified (put into right relationship with God) by faith.  We have peace and access to grace (God’s love that we do not deserve).  Therefore we rejoice because of the hope we have even if we suffer.  How can this be?  By the love of God poured into our hearts through the Spirit!

    Then Paul explains more fully what is behind all these wonderful results.  Jesus died for us.  And we did not deserve anything, let alone for Him to die.  We were enemies and yet He took the initiative and died for us!

    Notice the two aspects of salvation in verse 10.  We have been reconciled to God by the death of Jesus and we are saved by His life.  These two things are not great contrasts.  

    Paul was educated as a Jewish biblical scholar.  He was well aware that much Old Testament poetry works by saying the same thing in two ways or putting two similar things together.  It is called ‘parallelism’ and is simply the way Hebrew poetry worked.  It seems quite unusual to us, compared with much traditional English poetry which involves rhyme.

    Paul is emphasising there are two sides of the coin, two aspects of what it means to be saved.  Jesus’ death and resurrection mean both that we are set free from the consequences of sin, which separated us from God, and that we can experience salvation, the continuing transformation “from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor 4:18) until it is complete when Jesus returns.

    The second half of the chapter seems almost to labour the point but it is such good news that it is worth reflecting on various different aspects of it!

    Let’s make sure we receive God’s grace and the free gift of righteousness by faith, then we can “reign in life” through Jesus - His life in us causes us to become more like Him and to live free from sin (verse 17).  Of course we can go wrong, but we do not have to go wrong if we are filled with His life and follow the Holy Spirit.

    Free from the consequences of sin - that is good news!  But also free from the necessity of sin, - that seems almost too good to be true!